With the weather getting a little colder, there’s nothing I love more than a good comforting meal. A beautiful warming soup, a little pork belly, some kick-butt dumplings – ok, my waistline isn’t too much of a fan of the colder months, but I’m running this show, mwahahaha!
So when Stud and I were invited to try New Shanghai’s new wine and dumpling dinner, I was well up for it. Soup dumplings AND matched wine? Ummmm YES….please!
I had wanted to try New Shanghai for quite some time now. I feel like ever since Stud and I migrated from the North Side, it’s just got bigger and better. I’m not bitter, I’m just saying.
We arrived just after 6pm and as I walked down Victoria Street towards the Chase (Chatswood Chase that is), I was pretty damn excited. I entered via the Victoria street entrance which took me right in to the food court which was good. No tempting buys on the way to my dinner and we were seated straight away.
The staff were really welcoming and already had our tasting notes on the table, ready to go. We had a quick scan of the menu and our anticipation/excitement builded further as we looked around the restaurant at the décor. You don’t at all feel like you are in a food court. It’s very much a funky little restaurant vibe with oriental beach umbrellas, red bunting, walls covered in murals and a windowed kitchen so you can watch the staff making the infamous soup dumplings.
Service was insanely fast and within minutes, we are given our first course:
Mix cold dish starter
Shredded kelp mixed with spice and vinegar dressing
Chopped cucumber tossed with fresh garlic
Drunken chicken – Chicken soaked in Chinese wine with herb and spice
Wine: Leo Burling, Clare Valley Riesling, 2011
This was my first kelp experience and I have to say, I’m a fan! The texture is unusual to someone who hasn’t eaten it before but the flavour that they have doused it in screamed of sesame oil and a wonderful mix of spices.
The drunken chicken was pretty deceiving, rather bland looking on the plate but one it touches the tongue, was packed with flavour. I’m not normally fond of cold chicken as sometimes it takes on a flavour that I can immediately pick, this chicken had no such thing. Very flavourful and both Stud and I loved it.
The chopped cucumber was just that, cucumber chopped in half with a garnish of cherry tomato. There wasn’t much garlic to be seen. Stud didn’t get any and I had a tiny bit of what I thought was crushed garlic but once you take a bite, the vinegar and garlic were definitely there.
Stud and I aren’t normally fans of Riesling however this one was matched to perfection and the dishes really brought out a fresh sweetness in the sine.
We no sooner had our plates taken away before we are given our dumplings:
Mix steamed dumplings
New Shanghai Xiao Long Bao – steamed mini pork bun
Steamed mini crab meat and pork
Steamed vegetarian dumpling
Wine: Angel Cove Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc 2010
This was what I was looking forward to. It had been a while since I’d had me some XLB and these babies didn’t disappoint. The did look a little dry upon delivery to the table but once we pierced the skin and let the soup ooze out on to our spoon, that was fixed right up. Thankfully they were all of reasonable temperature as I have been scolded in the past.
The pork meat was perfectly cooked, still slight pink and not rock hard at all, mega juicy!
The mini crab meat bun was also perfectly cooked. The flavour of the pork kind of dominated the crab but with such a delicate flavour, it’s understandable. I did like the touch of roe on the top for extra fishiness!
I saved the vegetarian dumpling until last and after first bite, I said it Stud “its basically like an Asian spinach and cheese pastitzzi”. Very strong spinach flavour although the cheese was replaced with tofu – pretty enjoyable overall.
The Sauvignon Blanc was a wonderfully dry addition to the sweet and salty dumplings.
Having NO IDEA what Shepherd’s purse is, I was really interested to try our next course:
Shepherd’s purse and pork wonton tossed with sesame butter, red chilli oil and spice
Wine: Cape Schanck Mornington, Peninsula Pinot Grigio 2010
Three little dumplings served in a bowl (kinda sounds like the beginning of some kind of nursery rhyme haha), topped with sesame butter. When they arrive, I thought it was one MEGA dumpling and was trying to work out how to attack it. This is where Stud comes in handy, he just gets in there, no fear lol. So when I looked up at him in dismay, I saw that he was eating a regular sized dumpling. Ohhhhhh, there’s threeeeee. Ok cool! The sesame butter is the first thing you taste, and its amazeballs! So smooth and silky with a beautifully creamy sesameness (yup, it’s a word). The dumpling wrapper is amazingly silky and the pork is beautifully cooked. These guys definitely know how to cook their meat. I try searching inside the dumpling for something that I think might be Shepherd’s purse. I’m still none the wiser.
Pinot Grigio (my usual wine of choice) is a wonderful addition to the sweet and spicy sesame butter and went down a little too easy lol
Up next was:
New Shanghai pan-fried pork bun
Pan-fried pork dumpling
Wine: Fifth Leg, Crisp Chardonnay 2010
Stud asked me to send a warning out to you fine people stating that “Biting in to this bun and trying to let it drain isn’t enough. You must open in properly and wait for the liquid to come out. Trust me, its in there, and if you don’t let it drain, you’ll burn your face off”. There, now, after Stud’s wise words, I drained mine and a decent amount of soup came out. Delicious meaty soup! The bun was reasonably thick for this one and it somewhat confused Stud. Being used to the silky smooth XLB wrapper, he thought this was a little too thick.
I’m used to such a bun having a small obsession with BBQ pork buns and I loved the extra touch of pan frying it.
Both buns were similar in taste and texture although there was a star pastry in the middle of the plate that was pretty dry and I don’t think matched the plate to be honest. It was some kind of veg in filo pastry and I think deep fried. I just didn’t feel it went well. Overall though, fab dish!
Chardonnay is definitely my least favourite wine. It went well with the dumplings and they made it taste a little better, but I’m still not a Chardy lover.
Shepherd’s purse, prawn and tofu soup
Wine: Squealing Pig Otago, Pinot Noir 2010
Again, Shepherd’s purse. Maybe this time I’ll figure it out lol. Stud had the first try of this and immediately pushed it away. Too peppery for him. I could see what he meant, it was very peppery and after a few mouthfuls, it does very much take over the dish. I think I would have liked this one more if it had have been earlier on in the menu. I thought it was a little random after all the dumplings and before the main. It was nice, I’d eat it again, although I wouldn’t go out of my way to order it.
Pinot is a great addition to the pepperyness of this soup. It was a pretty sweet pinot actually so ended the soup nicely.
Next was the Pièce de résistance:
Pork belly braised overnight in sweet soy sauce
Deep-fried chicken with special garlic and chilli sauce. Served with rice
Wine: Penfolds Koonunga Hill 76, Shiraz Cabernet 2010
The pork belly! Oh, the pork belly! It was stick sweet and just so tender, it literally melted in my mouth. Stud couldn’t stop eating his, although I did just eat the meat as I tend not to waste calories on pork fat that doesn’t have an earth shattering crackle lol.
The deep friend chicken wasn’t at all oily as I’d expected. The meat was juicy and tender with just a really crispy skin. Boy was it crispy! Wonderfully flavourful as well.
Shiraz Cab isn’t something I would normally order but the sticky sweetness of the pork went really well. A pretty dry red (filled with tannons I think they call it lol), the sweetness of the pork was great. I think that the chicken probably would have lended itself better to a white in my opinion but seeing as it was an all in one dish, the red was still ok with it.
By this time, we were well and truly going to roll out of the restaurant but I was really interested about dessert.
Slow cooked white fungus with papaya soup
Fungus? In a dessert soup? Let me at it! A strange texture, kind of like a jelly that hadn’t completely set, but was thick like soup with chunks of cloudy jelly and bits of papaya. OMG it was delicious! It’s so hard to describe the flavour of this having never tried anything like it before but I would honestly recommend it. It was a perfectly light end to a big meal.
On the way home, I googled Shepherd’s purse and also white fungus and both are now on my ever-growing to-do-list to make at home.
We will definitely be back to New Shanghai. It’s definitely lived up to the hype and we want to bring friends back. With speedy service, friendly staff,great value and a wine list to match their dumplings, it’s definitely our kind of joint!
The Wine and Dumplings dinner is available at New Shanghai Chatswood Chase and Charlestown from 6pm and is $69 ($49 without wine). Such great value!!!